Alive to tell the tale: SA man nearly swallowed by whale

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According to Schimpf, who organizes diving activities, at that time he had planned - together with the other divers - to document the migration of the sardine, which occurs in South Africa from May to July.

In an episode of Barcroft TV's web series "Snapped in the Wild" Rainer, 51, recounts the time he was almost swallowed whole by a Bryde's whale off the coast of South Africa.

However, Schmipf seems in high spirits about the incident. "I don't think I had a whale of a time".

A real-life Moby Dick situation!

"Pick me up and throw me into the sea", Jonah said in the famous Biblical narrative, "and it will become calm". It was then he felt a pressure on his hip, making him realize that he was inside the whale's mouth.

The moment was captured by photographer Heinz Toperczer, who was with the diver on board a nearby ship, said he noticed the water churn up before "a whale appeared and grabbed him (Mr Schimpf)".

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Heinz Toperczer, another photographer on a nearby boat was able to capture the unbelievable footage of the terrifying encounter that has since been posted to Youtube. "I'm sure it was a surprise for the whale as well", he told ABC News.

Despite the beast's impressive size, Bryde's whales mainly feed on tiny ocean creatures like krill.

"It was an interesting experience for me but surely nothing I'd like to do again", he told Barcroft Animals.

"As they come up with their mouths open, they can't really see what is in front of them, and I guess the whale thought it was a dolphin", said fellow dive instructor Claudia Weber-Gebert in the video.

Bryde Whales are known to grow up to 55 feet in length and are typically found in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans. It was no fault of the whale.

Meanwhile, a pod of killer whales with distinctive round faces has fuelled speculation among scientists of a new species.

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